The analysis, conducted by Hilary Tindle, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, while she was based at Harvard Medical School, found that of 12,285 self-reported smokers, those who used light cigarettes were about 50 percent less likely to quit smoking than those who smoked non-light cigarettes. Smoking light cigarettes was associated with reduced odds of quitting for all age groups, but this effect increased with progressing age, peaking in adults age 65 and older, who were 76 percent less likely to quit than their counterparts who smoked non-light cigarettes.
Additionally, Dr. Tindle and her collaborators, who included Saul Shiffman, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, found that more than a third (37 percent) of the self-reported smokers said they used light cigarettes to reduce their health risks. The majority of these light cigarette smokers were female, Caucasian and highly educated. The responses were obtained as part of the 2000 National Health Interview Survey, an ongoing household survey of the U.S. population conducted by the United States Census Bureau for the National Center for Health Statistics.
According to Dr. Tindle, these findings are particularly disturbing because they translate into more than 30 million U.S. adult smokers who think they are reducing their smoking-related health risks by using light cigarettes but who, in fact, actually may be increasing such risks.
"Even though smokers may hope to reduc